Archive for the ‘choice’ Tag

God Grants Our Desires

Reading: Alma 29

As I was reading today I was particularly struck with the following verses, teaching that God grants us what we desire:

I ought not to harrow up in my desires, the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.

Two things struck me:

  1. God grants us what we desire, whether it is “unto death or life” or whether it will make us happy or sad.
  2. God protects those who do not know the principles of the gospel by not granting them their desires.

In a way, this is really quite scary, because it makes me examine what it is I really desire out of life? Is it serving others? Is it centering my family on the Savior? Or is it a clean house or status or wealth? Just like anyone else, I have many desires competing for my attention, but I hope I am giving the greatest place to those desires that are truly the greatest.

In another way, though, this is comforting because it shows that God recognizes what it is I truly want to do, even when I may not be fully capable of achieving it. God knows that Earth life is challenging and that we are not perfect yet, so he takes into account our intentions. Of course, God is too wise to fall for the claim that although I didn’t actually work for something, I wanted it anyway – after all, you work for those things you want the most.

Today I am going to examine my desires and watch to see what desires come up the most in my mind during the day.

What desires have you been pursuing lately? Are your desires in line with the gospel principles you know and understand?

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Sometimes Good is Good Enough

Reading: Ether 2

In this life we are free to make our own choices. God has given us our agency and no one can take it from us. The choices we make can sometimes be right, and sometimes wrong. Many of our choices, though, are a choice between options that are only slightly better or worse than each other or even the same.

For example, in Ether 2 God commanded the Brother of Jared to build his ships in a certain way. The Brother of Jared could choose to obey God, which would be right, or disobey God, which would be wrong.  However, when it came to how to get light into the ships God asked the Brother of Jared to come up with his own solution. In Ether 2:22-23 it says:

And he cried again unto the Lord saying: O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness? And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?

In this situation the Brother of Jared could have come up any number of solutions to the light problem.  What he decided to do was to molten several small stones and ask God to touch them so that they would illuminate the boats.  However, he probably could have come up with several similar solutions that also could have worked.

Lately I have been getting hung up on the idea that every choice I make has a wrong answer or a right answer. Often, this just isn’t the case. For example, there is no one “right” thing to make for dinner or one “right” activity to do with my daughter.  There are many examples in the scriptures of when men of God were asked to do something, but then left to themselves to decide the way they should do it. I have been asked to take care of my family but many of the specifics are left to me. In these situations trying to figure out what is exactly “right” can lead to undue stress and confusion.

Today as I make decisions I am going to remind myself to be happy with “good” and not stress myself out looking for “best” when there may not be one “best” answer.

Do you ever have the problem of getting hung up on what is “best” when there really isn’t one best answer? Can you think of choices we make that may have many good answers, but no one obvious best answer?

I Have Chosen the Good Part

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:30, Omni 1:2

As Lehi ends his blessing for Jacob he tells Jacob that he has made good choices in his life.  He says:

I have spoken these few words unto you all, my sons, in the last days of my probation; and I have chosen the good part, according to the words of the prophet.

This is a great contrast to Omni’s words found in Omni 1:2:

But behold, I of myself am a wicked man, and I have not kept the statutes and the commandments of the Lord as I ought to have done.

At this point in my life I feel that I have chosen the good part.  While I am far from perfect, I was married in the temple, we have a strong family, and we are starting on the path of raising children.  However, there is still so far to go!  There are the challenges I know I will face, such as raising children and growing older, and challenges I cannot anticipate that I still have to get through.  I hope that when all is said and done I can continue to say, with Lehi, that I have chosen the good part.

Today I am going to take some time to play outside with our daughter.  Yesterday she wanted so bad to play outside, but I had so much to do I didn’t have time.  As President Monson has often said, though, it is important to take time to play with and enjoy our children.  So, today I will make time.

Have you chosen the good part?  What choices have you made that affect where you are today? What choices will you make for tomorrow?

Adam and Eve Chose to Fall

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:15-16, LDS.org – Fall of Adam

We (Mormons) have some very different beliefs about the fall of Adam than other religions.  While many blame Adam for our fallen state, we believe that fall of Adam was a necessary part of the plan because if Adam did not fall from grace we would never have the opportunity to be born on the Earth, or to learn the differences between choosing good and evil.  You can read the following in the Gospel Topics section on the fall on LDS.org:

The Fall is an integral part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation (see 2 Nephi 2:15–16; 9:6). It has a twofold direction—downward yet forward. In addition to introducing physical and spiritual death, it gave us the opportunity to be born on the earth and to learn and progress.

It is important to understand the fall was part of the plan before you can understand 2 Nephi 2:15-16, which says:

And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

This scripture is saying that in order to fall Adam and Eve had to choose for themselves to break a commandment.  God could not simply cause them to fall because to do so would be unjust, and God is perfectly just.  So, God gave them a choice between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Eve (and Adam) partook of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil of their own free will, thus bringing about the fall and plan of God.

Adam and Eve also later came to realize that it was necessary for them to fall in order to bring to pass the purposes of God and the happiness and exaltation of men.  In Moses 5:11-12 it says:

And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient. And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.

In my life it would be impossible for me to make any choices for myself unless I have more than one option to choose from.  For example, if I only had bread in my cupboard I could not choose to have chili for lunch.  God gives us options because he knows that we can only grow and be happy if we are able to choose for ourselves.  Sometimes he gives us bad options and tells us they are bad, but we are still free to choose for ourselves the right or the wrong so that we can know the joy of choosing right over wrong (or the pain of choosing wrong, which would also help us to learn).

I have a tendency to be extremely independent.  When I feel that I am being forced to do even simple things my instinct is to rebel, even if I would have made the same choice for myself anyway.  However, I rarely feel the need to rebel against God because I know that he has given me the ability to choose, and that he truly wants what is best for me.  I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who is willing to let us make bad choices so that he can preserve our right to choose.

Today I am going to choose to set up a babysitter so that my husband and I can go to the temple.  I’ll try for tomorrow (which is Saturday) but if not tomorrow then sometime later this month.

What choices did you/will you make today?

Why A Punishment Is Necessary

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:11-13, 2 Nephi 

One question that some people have is that if God loves us, and wants us to be happy, then why doesn’t he just make us happy?  Or, why, specifically, does he have to punish us for doing wrong?  (There’s also the question of why there is pain at all, since some things just happen no matter what we do, but for today I’m just going to focus on why there has to be a punishment for things done wrong.)

The answer is that in order for us to enjoy the happiness that comes from doing good things, we also have to have a punishment for doing wrong.  In 2 Nephi 2:11-13 it says:

And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

The misconception is that if there was no punishment for sin, then we would all just be happy.  What Lehi is saying is that if there was no punishment for sin then we would not be happy or sad, we just wouldn’t even be.  Without the ability to choose right or wrong, and then reap the consequences, we would be mindless automatons without any life at all.  He says that happiness does not come from the mere absence of sin or punishment, but from choosing the right when we have the opporunity to choose wrong.  In order for all of this to work then punishment must come to those who choose wrong.

In my life I feel the most happiness and self-fulfillment when I am reaping the consequences of some right action.  That might be in my family when I choose to love and sacrifice for them, or in my career when I work hard to excel, or in my personal life when I work to achieve a goal.  The things that do not require me to choose, or to work, do not bring me much happiness.

It looks like this concept is discussed quite a bit more in 2 Nephi 2, so you can look forward to future posts on this topic.

Today my baby is sick and I have been running around a lot and feeling rather overwhelmed.  For the rest of the day today, though, I am going to remember that I am free to choose actions that will make me happy (such as taking a little bit of time to relax and being happy doing what I can) or things that will make me unhappy (such as worrying about the baby and wasting time doing nothing or fluttering about trying to do too much), and then choose to do things that will make me happy.

What in your life has brought you the most happiness? How would you choose differently if you never had to face a bad consequence for a bad choice?